I’m going to show you to player lines. You need to pick one:
1. 150 G, 607 PA, .249/.371/.498, 28 HR
2. 149 G, 631 PA, .288/.358/.508, 29 HR
Okay, so they basically put up similar production–.869 OPS for 1, .866 for 2–in different fashions.
Player 1 had more power (.249 IsoP) than Player 2 (.218), but both had no trouble putting the balls over the fences or hitting them for extra bases.
Player 2 hit for a better average, but Player 1 made up for it with a stellar .122 IsoD.
If you haven’t figured out who these two are yet, I’ll give you a hint: it’s one player.
If that’s not enough, it’s 2009 Nick Swisher vs. 2010 Nick Swisher. Despite two different approaches, Nick’s 2010 season pretty much mirrors his 2009 season, which was arguably his best season. We’ve already discussed how close the OPS numbers were, so let’s go farther with the similarities before we go to the differences. wOBA? .375 each year. wRC+? 132 in ’09 and 137 in ’10.
Remember back in early 2009 when some wanted Xavier Nady to start over Swish? Neither do I. Anyway, let’s look at the differences:
The big differences we see are in batting average, walk rate, and BABIP. Obviously, Nick’s BA shot up .039 points and that’s the most noticeable difference of the season. It is mostly the product of a great deal of hard work in the offseason to change his approach and become a different player. Certainly, the time he put in with Kevin Long paid off. At least for a second, though, we have to look at the huge upswing in BABIP that Swisher saw this season.
His BABIP went up to .335 from .272 (.286 career), which appears to be a freakish jump for which their could be a negative correction. BUT–isn’t there always a but in baseball?–Nick’s line drive rent went up to 19.7% from 16.3% in 2009, so he was hitting the ball harder in 2010, which usually means a higher BABIP, which usually means a higher batting average. Swish also cut down on the infield fly balls big time (down to 7.9% from 12.3), so that was likely a big factor. If Nick can keep up this hard contact next year, we could easily see a repeat of 2010.
The only thing I’m concerned about is the big drop in walk rate Swisher saw in 2010. He was able to make up for it with a good batting average, but if a BABIP correction does come in 2011, I’m worried that Swisher won’t be able to re-re-adjust and go back to his 2009 walk-taking self. But, if Swisher could adjust his game from 2009-2010, it’s very likely that he can go back in midseason. With this semi-transformation, Nick Swisher has proved two things: there’s more than one way to skin a cat to the tune of a .375 wOBA and that he’s incredibly talented. What, then, is the next step?
Well, we could get greedy and ask Swisher to combine the two approaches: a good average posting, walk taking power hitter. If that happens, the Yankees will basically have the right field playing-non-douche-version of Kevin Youkilis. I’d take that so long as there’s no dead-squirrel beard involved.
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